Theatre Lighting is a mixture of technical and artistic skill. It takes about 12 hours to cover all of the following so it is recommended to do it in several sections. As an overview it can be covered in 4 hours. There is no shortcut to good lighting.

TECHNICAL SKILLS – Stage Lighting Mechanics

Stage safety.

            Safety Guidelines For The Entertainment Industry can be found on the Live Performance Australia website


Health Public Buildings Act

Working At Heights Code Of Practice

Rigging safety.
Lighting Bars –

Lantern yoke, locks, safety wire, colour frame, accessories
Ladder safety
Platform ladders –


Elevated Work Platforms

Objectives of stage lighting.

            Illumination or Selective Visibility

            Dimension or Composition  – keeping it 3D

            Selectivity – revealing and hiding

            Atmosphere or Mood – controlling the audiences perception of time or place.

Properties of light


            Intensity – Dimmers, neutral density gels

            Shape – shutters, barndoors, gobos, edge focus, smoke or haze.

            Colour – black and white are colours

            Movement – walking through gobos, rotating gobos, moving lights, projection.

Electrical safety. –

Lethal current
Earthing of lanterns

Circuit breakers



Visual Inspection before Every use.

Testing and Tagging

Basic lantern types.


Profiles – Base Down and Axial or Ellipsoid


Fresnels – lens – barndoors



Lighting angles.

McAndless method – front keylights 45 degree each side and up and backlight

Dance – Sidelight, backlight and frontlight

Music – Atmospheric, light sheet music, liaasse with musicians

Lighting desks

Basic Presets

 Modern theatre desk – programming and use

Computer based – Light Factory – programming and use.

Moving lights desks –

Calculation of Power usage

 Watts is power consumption of a fixture

Three phase power

Dimmer Racks


            Sine Wave

            Switching options

Patching and cables.


Additive Mixing – Primary RGB, Secondary CMY

Subtractive Mixing

Gels – Swatch books – The Art of Light – Lee The Rosco Guide to Color Filters

Split gels

Dichroic colour filters

Colour Scrollers

Special effects.
            Gobos – fixed and moving

Effects projectors – Flame, water ripple, clouds, snow, strobes, u/v, moons, stars

Lamps, candles, scrims, haze, smoke

ARTISTIC SKILLS – Stage Lighting Design

Basic stage lighting design.
Stage areas – usually same as director – DSL,DSC,DSR, MSL,C,R, USL,C,R

Script Analysis – read through to get feeling, then to get cues and state changes
            use a pencil and put tabs of pages for lighting cues.

Lighting plans.
            Drawing Scale – usually 1:25 –
            Scale plan and side elevation of the set
           Stencils – speed up drawing plan, protractor, ruler, erasor –
            Circuit or patch – octagonal box
            Desk channel – circle
            Dimmer channel – square box


Script analysis.

Rigging a show


Square one rig.

Technical rehearsals
Desk plotting.
Setting Fade Times
Stage workers for scene changes
Recording Scenes
Editing Scenes
Recording Stacks
Assigning Stacks
Editing StacksRunning s show
            Lamp checks.

Page updated 15 May 2023